SUPER MARIO MAKER 2 / DEVELOPER & PUBLISHER: NINTENDO / PLATFORM: SWITCH / RELEASE DATE: JUNE 28TH
The original Super Mario Maker, released in September 2015, became one of the Wii U's most popular titles. Its level creation suite handed the reins to the general public, inspiring players to create millions of courses which could be shared online with everybody else. Given the current popularity of the Switch, it was only a matter of time before Super Mario Maker 2 would arrive, bringing a whole host of new Nintendo-created playable levels and an expanded library of creation tools.
SMM1 took its time to drip-feed content to the player, slowly unlocking new tools almost every time you play. SMM2 improves on this massively, by giving players access to pretty much everything straight away. A few things are held back as rewards for playing through the story mode, but you're able to create almost any type of level you could think of right from the off.
The first thing you'll want (or, more likely, need) to do is to visit Yamamura's Dojo to check out the tutorials, presented by a combination of quirky dialogue between Yamamura the pigeon, and human Nina, along with videos that demonstrate what they're talking about. There are 45 lessons in all, which will take a while to get through, or, if you're feeling frisky, you can just dive straight into the creation suite and hope for the best. We'd advise using the Switch in handheld mode for creating levels - the amount of options that line each side of the play area means that the touchscreen is much easier to use than a regular controller.
Assets are grouped into Terrain (ground, pipes, blocks etc), Items (coins, power ups and so on), Enemies (you can guess what's in here!), and Gizmos (hazards, keys, doors, and other things you can use for puzzle-based levels). There's an insane amount of possibilities, and there are a bunch of new tricks that weren't available in SMM1 - new arrivals include the ability to make sloped ground, a fuzzy-looking creature that will create a vertical twister for jumping / floating levels, claw grabbers, on / off switches, and a whole new game style...
Alongside the ability to create levels in the style of the original NES Super Mario Bros, Super Mario 3, Super Mario World, and New Super Mario Bros U, SMM2 adds Super Mario 3D World to the list, with all of its power ups, music, sound effects and environments. With the exception of 3D World (because many of the assets don't exist), these styles can be swapped between at any time, so if you make a Mario 3 course but later decide it would look better with a more modern Mario U sheen, just click the relevant button and everything will magically transform right before your eyes!
On top of simply creating the levels, there are many other bells and whistles to consider. What about your course theme? There are ten to choose from, including Underground, Forest, Ghost House, Desert, and all of the other familiar locations from the Mario universe. You can also choose between a day or night setting, both of which have different properties - what might be a relatively harmless patch of water during the day becomes a poisonous river at night, for example. It's also possible to add auto-scrolling to your levels, set the time limit, and add clear conditions such as defeating a certain amount of enemies or finishing without taking damage.
If creating isn't quite your thing, SMM2 contains a story mode with over 100 ready-made levels. These are usually fairly short, as Mario Maker levels often are, and see Mario completing courses and meeting clear conditions to earn coins that are spent on re-building Peach's castle. It would be unwise to look at this as a “new Mario game” though, as it's very much a way of giving players a good idea of what sort of things are possible with the available creation tools, but it will certainly keep you going for a good few hours if you were to play through the whole thing.
Super Mario Maker 2 takes what was already a first class creation kit and massively expands upon it, giving budding developers and those of a creative persuasion an impressive array of tools to come up with almost any kind of Mario-style level they can think of. If that sounds like your sort of thing, you really can't go wrong with this!